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Studying at university

My top tips for learning at university

When I started at university, I really felt that I had been pulled in at the deep end. It was so different from college with so many new things to learn. But I soon realised that everyone else was also making the same huge leap.

My name is Darja, I’m studying Sport Coaching BSc and here are my tips to make that jump to uni study so much easier!

  • Get used to big lectures
  • Prepare for seminars and practicals
  • Get ready for tackling assignments
  • Learn how to research

Get used to big lectures at uni

I found the way university teaching was structured confusing at first compared to college. It was completely different to what I was used to. In college I was in small groups of 20-30 students. University lectures teaching 50-100 students were a little daunting at first. I’d never been in room of so many people, but over time I gradually got used to it.

The best strategy which helped me get used to this was finding the part of the room where I could concentrate best. It’s useful to ask yourself whether you learn best by sitting nearer the front or back. At two hours long, lectures are also much longer than college lessons and involve lots more concentration, listening and note taking. The important thing to remember is to try to write down the key points, not everything and if you do miss anything, don’t panic! Remember slides and lecture material will be online afterwards.

Large lectures are a key part of university life.

Seminars and practicals at uni

But university learning doesn’t just consist of lectures. There is also lots of smaller group teaching, which is much more interactive: seminars with 15-20 students as well as practicals in some courses. For my Sports Coaching course, practicals consisted of hands-on coaching sessions, labs, placements and gym sessions, but this will vary depending on your course.

Tackling assignments at uni

One question lots of students have when they get their first university assignment is: how do I prepare for this? At first this can be a little tricky to work out. They can be very different to what you get at college. When I started, I didn’t quite know how to read academic texts, write in an academic style or reference assignments.

Learning to research at uni

I had a research methods module in my first term, which really helped me learn these skills. We also got a referencing handbook which was useful whenever I did get stuck. It is also useful to know that there are also bookable one-to-one study skills sessions at the university library if you ever need more help!

When I was at college, I also did an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). This turned out to be excellent preparation for uni assignments. It taught me how to back up my own judgments with evidence and made me realise the importance of regular references. My EPQ also taught me another important lesson: university lecturers provide guidance, but they won’t directly tell you what to do in the same way a college teacher would. University learning is all about finding and arguing for your viewpoint with evidence. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer!

Student looking at their phone

Word from the uni…

For more study resources, visit our My Studies section

Find out more about our Sport Coaching BSc.

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sport and exercise scienceSport and Health SciencesSport Coaching BSc

Darja Knotkova-Hanley • 28th November 2022

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